The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Wisdom of Crocodiles, aka Immortality, stars Jude Law as the latest in a string of new-age vampires. In this case, he's so romantic that he must drink the blood of someone who loves him perfectly, because if he doesn't he tastes all of their disappointment, all of their resentment, each of their grudges, and he is not properly nourished. "Love is what I eat", he offers.

Tough situation, because once he finds the woman who is the love of his life, he has to kill her to stay alive.

Yeah, I know it sounds pretty bad, and in a way it is. The premise is certainly far-fetched, and it allows the character to become some kind of an ultra-romantic schoolgirl fantasy - an Ann Rice character, as it might be played by Fabio, or in this case, current heartthrob Jude Law.

In the first fifteen minutes of the film, we see Jude knock off a couple of girlfriends. The fact that he's lost two in the past six months, and didn't even report the second one to the police, has raised the suspicions of a couple of dogged policeman.

The older police officer takes it upon himself to tail the Fabio Vampire when he is courting his current flame, and this leads to a couple of direct confrontations in which they establish something which resembles a friendship, in which Fabio Vampire saves Dogged Cop's life once, and shows him some other kindness at various times.


Elina Lowensohn appears topless in one love scene with Jude Law. This exposure is visible in the widescreen version, but not in the 4:3 version available on video tape.

Law is seen naked as he gets out of bed. His penis can be seen in some frames.

The dramatic tension in the film comes from two elements. First, will Fabio Vampire elude the cops? Second, will he spare the life of his true love, as he intends to, or will his animal instincts take over and compel him to dine on her blood? The title of the film refers to the fact that Fabio Vampire appears to be human, but underneath has the brain and instincts of other orders of life, like the crocodile, which feed on other lives, even their own offspring, simply because they must do so in order to maintain their own lives. So when he truly loves someone, his human nature is at war with his reptilian nature.

The film is impressive in some ways.

  • The characterizations are subtle and interesting. Neither the vampire nor the cop are what you expect them to be. Both are softer, kinder, more respectful, more charming, and more thoughtful than you'd expect. The vampire is, in fact, a perfect citizen, except for his biological need to be a predator, over which he has no more control than a crocodile. He is dashingly attractive, is modest, tends to the sick, gives comfort to children, shows respect for everyone.
  • Jude Law and Timothy Spall are excellent in the lead roles. Elina Lowensohn was attractive as the perfect love, although she's a stiff actress and her English is literally incomprehensible at times. Fortunately the DVD is close-captioned for the hearing impaired, so I watched Lowensohn's scenes with English subtitles.
  • The cinematography is top-notch. The entire film has a lush, rich look and a certain skewed perspective in which some simple head shots are a few degrees from square, while other scenes are shot almost straight up or down from vertiginous angles. The camera is usually stationary, but at an odd angle, which gives the film a consistent dynamic all its own.
  • The over-the-top premise comes pretty close to working because the film has a certain uniquely crazed romanticism mixed with some philosophical meditations anout life and love. If it doesn't quite work, neither does it seem as silly as you might think from reading the plot summary.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • very good transfer 1.85:1, widescreen anamorphic

  • Not much in the way of features. One trailer and about a five minute featurette.

Unfortunately, as I watched this movie twice in the last week, my initial enthusiasm for its odd approach dampened significantly, because I realized how slowly the film moves, and how little energy it has. The good performances, the unique look, and the effective musical score make it seem a lot better than it really is. It has lots of style, but no life. It has great individual elements, but they don't form a great composite. It has an excellent execution, but of a silly idea.

It's good to look at, and good to listen to, but in the last analysis, I thought it was just too slow, and the ending was just too predictable and unfulfilling to manage the whole romantic concept. Miramax let it sit on the shelves for two years because they doubted its commercial viablity, and they were right to do so. On the other hand, if you are looking for something different, have no objection to arty non-commercial films. and the synopsis intrigues you, you might find it to be your cup of tea, because it is professionally executed.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9,
  • With their dollars ... it played in exactly one theater in the United States, in Greenwich Village, where the NY Times reviewer saw it and disliked it.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. I don't see any crossover potential. It's a stylish, arty, offbeat genre picture, but not one with much mainstream commercial appeal.

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